This week in Restoring Family Links: 08/01/2016 - 08/05/2016

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Photo Credit: Reuters

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Photo Credit: Reuters

U.N.: Late night of August 2, the United Nations member states finalized a statement for adoption at the UN Summit that aims to tackle the refugee crisis and future similar emergencies on September 19. The statement, considered by human rights critics, is watered down. One of the reasons why is that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Global Compact on Refugees was not included in the statement, and it is said that the Compact will not be agreed before 2018.

According to Amnesty International, the Global Compact on Refugees, if agreed within this year, could be life-changing. The center of this document is “global responsibility sharing,” which indicates that all countries should recognize “their common legally binding responsibilities” to aid those that are forced to flee their homes due to war and/or persecutions.  However, with the compact being excluded from the statement, it is clear that states’ national interests have triumphed. By excluding the Global Compact on Refugees, the meeting has failed on a “promise” to share responsibility to 10 percent of the total refugee populations.

It is reported that in the September refugee-themed meetings between world leaders, each will make a separate resettlement pledges, instead of making collective ones.

To many critics, this is an opportunity missed as the refugee crisis will only grow, and actions are not adequately take to help those that have to abandon their homes, not because they want to.

Mae La Refugee Camp. Photo Credit: CCSDPT

Mae La Refugee Camp. Photo Credit: CCSDPT

Burma: On August 1, it is reported that refugees’ service centers to help Karen refugees, who voluntarily will return home, are established in nine Karen refugee camps along the border between Thailand and Myanmar.

The “Voluntary Repatriation Centers,” established with the assistance from UNHCR and IOM, are the place where refugees can declare their intention to return home, and they will be helped with advice, counseling, and provisions. Furthermore, they will formally and legally processed by the Thai authorities.

This development is the result of the late-June agreement struck between the Thai and Burmese government where Burma’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi promised protections for the returning refugees with new jobs created for them. The promise of security and protection also stems from the signed agreements of cross border affairs, as well as Suu Kyi’s efforts to make peace with ethnic armed groups in Burma.

Mae La camp, along with eight other camps, has been a refuge for Karen people for about 30 years, ever since they fled violence occurred between ethnic armed oppositions and the military government. In 2008, it is reported that about 43,000, many of whom are born in the camp – thus have no experience outside the fences, are currently living in Mae La.